Tagg, Weld say no to Massachusetts Senate race

Three days after former Sen. Scott Brown jolted fellow Massachusetts Republicans by announcing he would not run in the special Senate election to succeed Secretary of State John Kerry, all sorts of Bay State GOPers were lining up to say ???thanks but no thanks??? to the primary scheduled for April 30.

Tagg Romney, one of five sons of Mitt and Ann Romney, announced Monday that he would not run.  The 42-year-old businessman, who was a close adviser to his father???s presidential campaign last year, issued a statement that ???the timing is not right for me.???  Romney???s statement followed a similar announcement earlier in the day from liberal former Gov. William F. Weld (1990-96) that he would not seek the seat from which Kerry resigned after 28 years and to which Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick appointed his former top aide William ???Mo??? Cowan, serving as a caretaker until the June 30 special election.

Also saying no to a Senate race this year is 2006 GOP gubernatorial nominee Kerry Healy, who previously served as Romney???s lieutenant governor.

Others in the party spoke of fielding a fresh face, much as then-State Sen. Brown was fresh when he won Kennedy???s seat over Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley three years ago.  One possibility is Cohasset businessman Gabriel Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, while another is State Rep. Daniel Winslow, legal counsel to Romney when he was governor. Winslow, who characterizes himself as ???fiscally prudent and socially tolerant,??? issued a statement saying he was considering the race and told the Sun Chronicle he would make an announcement Feb. 5.

Other names being floated include former U.S. Attorney Mike Sullivan; State Rep. Shaunna O???Connell of Taunton, the only Republican to be elected to the legislature in a district Brown lost last year; and former WTKKRradio talk show host Mike Graham, a strong conservative.

Although much of the  national press suggested Brown was passing on the Senate race to run for governor in 2014, when Gov. Patrick is termed out, this may not be as easy as one thinks.  Earlier last week, one of Brown???s closest associates, Kirsten Hughes, was narrowly elected GOP state chairman.  With the former senator???s active support, Hughes, who had been deputy finance chairman of Brown???s campaigns, edged out the more conservative Rick Green by a vote of 41 to 39 of the state GOP committee.

???One of the reasons for voting for Kirsten was that Scott Brown was running for Senate and needed her to be there,??? State Committeeman Steve Aylward, who supported Green, told the Boston Herald Friday, ???Now one day afterward, he decides not to run for it? I think I???m speaking for a lot of the grassroots activists who are going to say, ???this doesn???t pass the smell test.??? ???

For now, it would seem that Brown???s decision has left his party in a proverbial lurch, as Democratic Reps. Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch begin to duel for the Democratic nomination in the April primary.  Whether Republicans can come up with a candidate who takes off as Brown himself did three years ago remains to be seen.